The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Friday, June 04, 2004
Two cheers for Sciolino
Campaign Desk gives a tip of the hat to the New York Times' Elaine Sciolino  for a report on Bush's impending trip to France, and the attendant pre-publicity. The reason for CD's approbation: the woman manages, entirely off her own bat and not in some stenographical report of a he said, she said, to contrast the nice things Bush is saying about the French right now with the horrid things he was saying not too many moons ago.
At last, a case of the disease of objective reporting has been cured!
Except - about two-thirds of the way down, we read this:
Privately, the two men are said to believe that they have no choice except to bury their mutual anger over Iraq, find areas of agreement and move on...
The most egregious use of anonymous sources I can remember reading in quite a while.
Who, exactly, are those doing this private saying? Is this a USG man talking about Bush and a French guy about Chirac? Or are these comments transatlantic? How many sources are involved? For which departments or agencies do they work? How senior? Yadda yadda yadda...
(Use of the passive voice is striking, as effacing the role of actors who are no only anonymous, but about which absolutely no information whatsoever is released. A positively Soviet joke!)
According to this summary of various paper's policy on anonymous sources, the NYT's
general rule is to tell readers as much as we can about the placement and known motivation of the source.
The otherwise admirable Sciolino tells us precisely squat.
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